Archive for Tuesday, February 6, 2007

House committee considers tax incentives for hybrid cars

A $2,500 credit would be available for new purchases

February 6, 2007


— With six children and a job in construction, state Rep. Anthony Brown, R-Eudora, said Tuesday that he hasn't found a hybrid vehicle to fit his lifestyle.

But that doesn't mean he won't some day.

Brown and state Rep. Tom Hawk, D-Manhattan, are pushing legislation that would give Kansans a $2,500 refundable state income tax credit if they purchase a hybrid vehicle.

The two legislators told the House Energy and Utilities Committee that the tax refund would prompt car manufacturers to increase production of fuel-efficient hybrid vehicles, such as cars that use gas and electricity, and help clean the environment.

"This also would be a good way to curb our use of foreign oil," Brown said.

Dr. Peter Bock, a family physician from Eudora, who has a 3,000-watt wind generator in his yard, testified in support of the bill, saying it would promote alternative fuel technology.

"This technology currently exists. It's just a mater of economics, imagination and government incentives to keep the ball rolling," Bock said.

Ford and General Motors, which are producing hybrid cars in the area, the Sierra Club and the Kansas Automobile Dealers Assn. also supported the bill.

A state tax incentive, along with a current federal tax break would close the gap between the cost of hybrid vehicles and regular ones, auto industry officials said.

But the Kansas Department of Revenue said the proposed state bill was expensive and could produce some disgruntled taxpayers.

Under House Bill 2222, the tax credit would be capped at $2.5 million, which means 1,000 people would be eligible. There were approximately 1,500 hybrid vehicles sold in Kansas in 2005, the agency said.

Potentially hundreds of car buyers would not be able to get the tax credit, which would be handed out on a first-come, first-serve basis.

In addition, the agency would have to spend more than $200,000 to program the tax credit, which under the bill would last only two years.

"Are there more efficient uses of $2.5 million in state funding?," Revenue spokesman Richard Cram asked.

Brown said he didn't think it would be a big hassle to establish the hybrid tax credit. The state already provides a $750 tax credit for alternative fuels vehicles, but few people know about it, Brown said. He said only 20 people last year applied for the credit.

The committee took no action on the bill, but several committee members were intrigued with the legislation and thought maybe it should be narrowed.

For instance, state Rep. Tom Sloan, R-Lawrence, said it may be better to restrict the tax credit for vehicles assembled in the United States. And state Rep. Forrest Knox, R-Altoona, questioned providing a tax credit for hybrid pickup trucks and SUVs since their fuel efficiency wasn't that much greater than standard pickup trucks and SUVs.


grubesteak 11 years ago

Interesting. A step in the right direction.

I watched "Who Killed The Electric Car?" last weekend and thought, if only Kansas would pass a zero-emissions mandate ... how sweet it would be.

Then again, a zero-emissions mandate would put quite a crimp on KUs nasty buses.

davisnin 11 years ago

JackRipper you're right. A Toyota yaris is a much better environmental choice than a prius, especially for the commuters of Lawrence. In fact the best thing to do is keep your current vehicle running as long as possible regardless of the miles per. A 15mpg truck going for 20 years has less of an environmental impact than building a new car. If the main concern is foreign oil, though, Yaris is the better choice.

Mkh 11 years ago

I for one really hope this goes through, mainly because I bought a hybrid; but I also think we need to make these automobiles more affordable to more people.

Of course hybrids are not the end all be all answer, but there are much better than convential automobiles.

In terms of 50mpg from a diesel, I believe you are referring to bio-diesel automobiles. While it is relatively cheap and easy to convert your diesel to bio-diesel. There are not enough bio-diesel fueling stations yet to make this a realistic option (unless you live in California). The same thing goes for ethanol. Those are even better environmental options, but unfortunately we are not ready to have them available to the masses.

"In fact the best thing to do is keep your current vehicle running as long as possible regardless of the miles per"

I'm not sure if I buy this or not...considering that cars' engines that are five years or older do not burn nearly as clean emissions as newer cars.

Mkh 11 years ago

Well I think the short answer to your questions Jack is it depends really on your environmental viewpoint.

Do you think the landfill problem is the biggest threat to the Earth, or the Global Warming/Clean Air problems?

Meaning hybrids vehicles are better than conventional automobiles in terms of they have Zero emmissions. Which most environmental experts say is one main cause of Global Warming.

I hear what your saying about adding cars/batteries, etc. to the landfills. But I beleive there are alternatives such as recycling various parts of automobiles.

I do know about one Volkswagen model diesel (the Jetta) that gets tremendous gas milage. But I believe that they are able to achieve that only due to specific size and type of the Jetta. But I agree those cars are great and people should buy them.

I also very strongly agree that we should also have tax breaks for anyone that buys a fuel effeciant vehicle. I also think there needs to be standard regulations on the car manufactors to keep gas guzzlers off the market.

Mkh 11 years ago

On Ethanol, again it's not the stand alone answer to our Energy Crisis. But we need to incorporate more of it into our fuels. I don't think we'll ever get to the point of Brazil and be able to be totally gassed up with ethanol. But that is just due to our massive demand.

Mkh 11 years ago

I'm not saying that keeping cars out of landfills is a bad idea. But the question is which threatens the Earth faster. Gas burning emissions, or issues with landfills?

Hybrids are officially classified something like "nearly-zero" emissions. They emit a very minimial amount of emissions, to date they have the lowest emissions of any cars on the market.

Now let's talk about the practical aspects of everyone keeping the same car for 20 years. Would that not completely shut down the vast automotive industry and cause massive amounts of job lay-offs? What about ever evolving safety measures and standards that are working to save the lives of motorists? Do you really not want your love ones to have airbags and other vital safety measures?

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